Syon Cope

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The Syon Cope is from Syon Abbey, Middlesex. Made between 1300 and 1320, the cope would have been worn by a high-ranking priest or bishop.

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Construction Details

Materials Used

Stitches and Techniques

Design

The Syon Cope has embroidered on it scenes from the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary, with figures of the apostles. It is worked in costly silk, silver-gilt and silver thread, which entirely covers the linen background material. The figures are framed in overlapping units, based on the quatrefoil (a form with four lobes).

The identification of some of the heraldic shields in the cope's borders (orphreys), which have been found to relate to families in the area around Thetford, in Norfolk, suggests that it may have been made for a religious order in that area, but this is by no means certain.

This piece of embroidery is a surviving example of the Opus Anglicanum style. It is an unusual example in that the background couching is done in silk thread, rather than gold thread.

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